We’ve read a lot lately about teacher strikes closing schools. It’s easy to sympathize. Many budget-strapped teachers have used their own money to fund classroom expenses. Such teachers are examples of what it’s like to devote one’s life to a profession. But a series of school shootings in recent years have documented what it’s like to risk one’s life for it. Some teachers have even placed themselves between their students and their shooter. Christian or not, these teachers have taught an important lesson in the Good Shepherd philosophy Christ taught his disciples, as we read in Sunday’s gospel reading from John (Jn 10:11-18):
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
In putting the safety of the children in their charge ahead of their own, these teachers revealed their own identity as children of God—and honorary brothers and sisters of Christ’s original disciples. Looking at how those disciples were martyred, you can see the family resemblance John mentions in Sunday’s second reading (1 Jn 3:1-2):
Beloved: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
In most of these school shootings, there was no time to think or strategize. It was a matter of do or die—or do and die. Either way, lives were saved. As Christians, we often give credit for such bravery to the Holy Spirit. We equate that spirit with God—as part of a Holy Trinity with Father and Son. As human beings, we can’t help but be reminded of the miracles made possible by the Acts of the Apostles—as Peter explains the inspiration for their acts in Sunday’s first reading (Acts 4:8-12):
If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved, then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed.
By acting as Christ’s original disciples would have while under Godly influence in these ungodly times, we can all have faith that there’s still hope for this flock called humanity.